With so much to do in England’s capital city, Essex might not cross your mind as an essential destination near London.
But in fact, the southern county is filled with many fun, family-friendly activities, and is home to more must-see locations than you might think.
If you’re looking to plan the perfect getaway for next year, you might say the only way is Essex!
- Saffron Walden Turf Maze
The rural village of Saffron Walden has plenty to offer, including preserved medieval architecture, a traditional market frequented by Jamie Oliver, and even its own independent cinema.
But one of its most famous attractions is without a doubt its turf maze. A popular visiting spot, this yew hedge labyrinth is the largest and oldest surviving maze of its kind in Europe. As challenging as it is picturesque, it’s the perfect afternoon outing for guests of all ages.
- Audley End House and Gardens
Another Saffron Walden hotspot, Audley End features a charming country house and gardens owned by English Heritage.
While the building’s imposing exterior could give Downton Abbey a run for its money, visitors can also take a stroll through its scenic landscape for the classic English countryside experience. For the little ones, the house contains an indoor play area modelled on a traditional Georgian nursery.
If that wasn’t enough, the grounds also include a Victorian stable with resident horses, and the Servant’s Hall Tea Room, which is perfect for a quick refreshment between explorations.
- Colchester Castle
This Norman castle has an incredible history behind it and is one of the few castles in Europe with its keep still intact.
It’s a particularly ideal visiting spot for anyone travelling with children, who are sure to be mesmerised by the castle’s many interactive exhibits. Plus, the castle even houses its own escape room – can you break the serpent’s curse?
- Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker
It’s not every day you get to visit a secret nuclear bunker, but this former civil defence centre, RAF ROTOR station and one-time regional headquarters offers a unique and fascinating adventure.
The bunker offers self-guided tours, providing guests with headsets for an immersive experience. Although the narrated tour takes around an hour and a half, the addition of the bunker’s interactive elements can take up to four hours to complete – it’s recommended you visit more than once to take everything in.
Extra travel tips
Aside from its fantastic sightseeing opportunities, Essex also has great transport links, including London Stansted Airport. If you’re there for an extended stay with car access, the airport is just short drive from any of the aforementioned locations and hassle free, parking can be arranged via looking4.com.
With the hard part done, travellers can simply stroll through the airport and check out the wide array of shops and restaurants, including great independents as well as much-loved chains and recognisable brands.
Which underrated holiday locations do you recommend? Share in the comments below!